MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE 3) The family of a television reporter who was abducted by alleged members of the Abu Sayyaf paid P5 million to her captors although only P2 million reached them, police and justice officials disclosed Friday.
In separate press conferences, Philippine National Police Chief Avelino Razon and Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said that the family of ABS-CBN?s Ces Drilon gave the ransom to Indanan Mayor Alvarez Isnaji, who was negotiating for her release, along with her crew and a professor, after they were abducted last June 8 in Sulu.
The kidnappers initially demanded a P15-million ransom.
"The initial payment was P5 million, however P2 million lang naibigay sa [only P2 million was given to the] kidnap for ransom group and the P3 million was kept by Mayor Isnaji," said Razon.
The PNP Chief also showed media pictures of the money being counted in Isnaji?s house in Indanan. Together in the picture were Alvarez, his son Haider, Sulu Vice Governor Lady Ann Sahidulah and Superintendent Winnie Quidato.
Citing accounts by witnesses whom he did not name, Gonzalez affirmed Razon?s statement that Isnaji allegedly pocketed P3 million and gave the balance to the abductors.
But Gonzalez also disclosed that aside from the P5 million that was given by Drilon?s family, another P15 million was paid to the kidnappers.
He said the money, which was inside a duffel bag, was delivered to the Orchid Hotel in Zamboanga via Negros Air Express Company, owned by the Lopezes of ABS-CBN.
Gonzalez said this was revealed to him by Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno whom INQUIRER.net could not reach for comment as of posting time.
Razon confirmed that there was another demand for P15 million but said that whether this was met would be the subject of further investigation.
Razon said that based on intelligence information gathered, the leader of the kidnap gang was identified as ?Larin-Larin,? an alleged alias of Isnaji.
Gonzalez confirmed this, saying it was former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Nur Misuari who identified ?Larin-Larin? as Mayor Isnaji, being a member of the Moro National Liberation Front?s (MNLF?s) central committee that signed the peace agreement in 1996.
Gonzalez said during the debriefing of the victims, they claimed that they heard their abductors mention "Larin-Larin."
Razon said Quidato, an intelligence officer, was sent to Jolo to work ?undercover? and managed to penetrate the party of Isnaji.
Razon said Quidato had ?first hand personal knowledge? of the delivery of the P5-million ransom delivered to Isnaji and the delivery of the P2-million cut to Drilon?s kidnappers.
Sahidulah, on the hand, could be called in as a witness.
The P5 million was delivered to Isnaji by Frank Oreña, brother of the broadcaster, and was delivered just before Valderama was released.
Chief Superintendent Raul Castañeda, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group chief, also noted the inconsistencies in Isnaji?s statements.
Castañeda cited that in a previous media interview Isnaji mentioned a P100,000 ?board and lodging fee? that was given to the kidnappers in exchange for the release of Valderama, one of two cameramen of Drilon, but which the mayor never mentioned during the interrogation.
Isnaji and his son were charged with kidnap for ransom at inquest proceedings at the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group office at the PNP that began late Thursday and ended early Friday.